Garden of (eternal) Mindfulness


This second project is prompted on the one hand by the environmental importance of wildlife gardening as part of a global biodiversity and sustainable living future, and on the other by a continuing personal mental need for a project in a relaxed environment to focus on improving my range of drawing and painting skills in both rapid and more considered images, and to help me think through how I record ‘stream of consciousness’ thoughts and responses to what is going on around me and how I can vary my style accordingly.

The project here continues work submitted for VCAP and is only the beginning of a body of long term ongoing experimentation. It consists of four experimental sub-projects:

  • ‘Playing in Squirrel Time’ rotoscoped animations from video of wildlife in our garden, experimenting with different quick sketching and rotoscope techniques to capture energy and complexity of wildlife relationships in our garden.
  • ‘Garden Tools’ an experimental Sketchbook of drawing and painting with garden objects and inks, using also the insights from rotoscoping and following on from experiments in VCAP.
  • ‘Garden in Blue’ experimenting with Cyanotypes timed in the sun to produce a range of effects.
  • Garden of Mindfulness – first plans I envisage eventually a small quirky tongue-in-cheek sketchbook/collage publication charting my attempts to incorporate meditation into my daily life against the backdrop of bio-diverse dramas and carnage in my chaotic and overgrown wildlife garden, alluding also to underlying philosophical questions about living and our suburban role in looking after the planet.

Project Evolution

I have always been interested in wildlife and organic gardening. Our garden is both vegetable plot and wildlife garden shared with birds, squirrels and also rats. Sitting watching butterflies, feeling environmentally useful when a beehive appeared in the willow tree and mindfully musing about life is restful. Getting up early and listening to the dawn. Noticing unseen beauty in the flickering yellow light through the willow branches, and the light on a plastic dome like a distant sunset.

But so many decisions and power can also be a constant source of constant worry and stress. The rats in particular were a recurrent concern in my sketchbook ‘Everyday Edges’ diary for April. Replacing our open-bottomed compost bin, stopping feeding all the other wildlife and encouraging all the local cats – possibly coupled with re-opening of more enticing restaurants down the road after Covid restrictions – led to a miraculous disappearance. Luckily before the fledglings and hedgehogs really increased. But why am I worried about rats? What about all the squirrels that no longer seem to be regulating their reproduction on their diet of sunflower seeds and fatballs meant tor the birds? And now the fledglings and hedgehogs are a constant source of worry – is the three legged hedgehog still OK? Is it scratching more than normal? Does it have a few flees, or blow fly? Will it fall in the pond like the one from last year? Or even push one of the other hedgehogs into the pond? Can the baby robin eat the dry mealworms, or can soak them in time for it to eat before the cat comes? Do we want to encourage kestrels and foxes, even if they eat the young blackbirds? Am I becoming allergic to the high pollen levels announced daily on the weather forecasts?

The project here continues preliminary sketchbook, moving image and solar plate work submitted for VCAP.

Research padlet linking to resources on wildlife gardening in the political context of increasing biodiversity and sustainable living, research on time, consciousness and meditation, and different aesthetic approaches.

Made with Padlet

Playing in Squirrel Time

An experimental documentary animation from video of squirrel relationships in our garden, playing with different rotoscoping techniques and styles to show fast and slow movement. To develop skills in observational animation that I can adapt elsewhere.

Garden Tools

Experimental Stop Motion animation and Sketchbook meditation of drawing and painting my garden with garden objects and inks.

‘Blue Garden’: Cyanotypes

Experimenting with cyanotype timing and exposure in the sun.

One Day in May

An evocative ‘stream of consciousness’ video, merging present with flashes from the past and future, in the style of Maya Deren and Stanley Brakhage using photographs taken over one full day in May 2021, building on ‘Summer Aesthesia’ from VCAP.

Garden of Mindfulness (first draft)

I envisage eventually a small quirky tongue-in-cheek sketchbook/collage publication charting my attempts to incorporate meditation into my daily life against the backdrop of bio-diverse dramas and carnage in my chaotic and overgrown wildlife garden, alluding also to underlying philosophical questions about living and our suburban role in looking after the planet.

Based on observational Concertina Sketchbook Diary and video clips over time. Inspired by Georges Perec: ‘Exhausting a Place in Paris’, ‘I Remember’ and ‘Rough Patch’, with future reference to Garden Planning from ‘Jungle Garden’ and other books and on-line resources on